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The Statehouse News Bureau provides educational, comprehensive coverage of legislation, elections, issues and other activities surrounding the Statehouse to Ohio's public radio and television stations.

DeWine Reviewing Options After Biden Denies Medicaid Work Requirements

[Office of Gov. Mike DeWine]
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine

While health care advocates are celebrating a decision by the federal government to deny Ohio's Medicaid work requirements, they say there are other hurdles on the horizon for those using the program.

Steve Wagner, executive director of the Universal Health Care Action Network of Ohio, says Ohio's requirement for unemployed Medicaid recipients to show they're trying to get a job or volunteering, created extra administrative hurdles that would have led to people losing coverage.

"That's not what the Medicaid program's designed to do," Wagner said. "Coercing people into finding jobs by trying to take away their health care doesn't do it."

Gov. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), who said the Biden administration's decision is "extremely disappointing," can still appeal the decision.

"Ohio’s reasonable approach provided individuals with options while supporting them on their way to self-sufficiency. The Biden administration’s decision was shortsighted and contrary to our statewide effort to improve public health," DeWine said in a written statement.

The waiver Ohio sought to implement these requirements was originally approved by the Trump administration.

Rea S. Hederman Jr., executive director of the Buckeye Institute's economic research center called the decision "ill-considered" adding that the absence of these requirements will result in more Ohioans being "disconnected from the workforce for longer periods of time."

Another problem could arise as the state prepares to redetermine the eligibility of every current Medicaid recipient once the federal pandemic emergency is lifted, Wagner warned.

Under a provision in this year's state budget bill, people who are eligible for Medicaid could accidentally be kicked out of the program, he said.

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